First disaster, urgent advice required!

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

MrMouse

New Bee
Joined
Feb 27, 2023
Messages
71
Reaction score
34
Location
Dorset
Number of Hives
0
Hi folks,

Went into my lovely national colony (my first and only) today to check stores. No eggs, no sign of the queen and multiple charged queen cells.

I expect I squished her by accident when adding in a 12th frame to give them space. Who knows. Anyway, I think she’s a gonner!

At this time of year, is it still possible to get mated queens? Obviously on a rather urgent basis…

Any advice?
Thanks
 
Hi folks,

Went into my lovely national colony (my first and only) today to check stores. No eggs, no sign of the queen and multiple charged queen cells.

I expect I squished her by accident when adding in a 12th frame to give them space. Who knows. Anyway, I think she’s a gonner!

At this time of year, is it still possible to get mated queens? Obviously on a rather urgent basis…

Any advice?
Thanks
Honey fields or beckys bees
 
Are they nice looking queen cells or stubby emergency ones drawn on the face of the comb ? If the latter then she is missing and they are panic /emergebcy cells.

One needs to be 100% sure they are QL before adding a new one.
 
Last edited:
Are they nice looking queen cells or stubby emergency ones drawn on the face of the comb ? If the latter then she is missing and they are panic /emergebcy cells.

One needs to be 100% sure they are QL before adding a new one.
Varying sizes but lots of small stubby ones on the face of the comb unfortunately!
 
There are still some mated queen's for sale but you would have to be really unlucky to kill the queen by adding a frame.
 
There are still some mated queen's for sale but you would have to be really unlucky to kill the queen by adding a frame.
There were some other silly things I did which may have been the real cause!
Seemed sensible to me but clearly not!
Anyway, all a learning curve.
I’ll get on the phone to various places tomorrow morning and see what’s possible
 
There were some other silly things I did which may have been the real cause!
Seemed sensible to me but clearly not!
Anyway, all a learning curve.
I’ll get on the phone to various places tomorrow morning and see what’s possible
If you explain your recent management and describe the brood nest you may get other constructive replies.
 
If you explain your recent management and describe the brood nest you may get other constructive replies.
Ok! As long as you all go gently!

I had 11 frames absolutely packed with bees. 9 frames of brood, 2 of stores. Apivar strips in situ.

I had been feeding them because there wasn’t much of a flow on and were rapidly getting through what they had. I then checked them before going away for 10-12 days and found that they were back filling all of the emerged cells with sugar syrup leaving no space for the queen to lay.

So, I stuck a 12th frame in to give the queen some extra laying space.

Here is where everything went wrong though… silly beginner wanting to fiddle too much.

I was paranoid about them potentially swarming (although unlikely late in the season I know) because they didn’t have any space.
I therefore removed the feeder (now lots of pollen coming in) and left the empty super I had been using as an eke above the crown board as ‘emergency space’ on the premise that if they felt like they needed to expand they could always draw wild comb here and I’d feel with it later (not wanting to put super frames on with Apivar in).

I then returned from my holiday, the weather had been pants and they’d used up most of their stores.
I then wanted to go into winter feeding mode and shook out the bees in the super (having checked, or so I thought I had) for the queen. I shook them onto the brood box but some went onto the floor etc. I expect she was a casualty at some point in this…..
Be gentle!
 
I've done similar in the past, while looking for a queen to dispose of. After trying various methods, finished with smoking the bees through an excluder after shaking each frame. A few minutes later I found the queen on the floor, it's all part of the beekeeping experience.
There are a number of things you can still do, if there are still drones in the area let an emerging queen mate there is still a little bit of time left. Split it in 2 and do as above and take 2 nucs into winter. You may have 1 or both come spring.
Buy 2 mated queens and split into nucs to overwinter.
Otherwise 1 mated queen in the hive to overwinter and then split in the spring. But the hive is weakening slightly, what is your wasp situation like? I think you will opt for one queen and hope for the best. If the hive fails during winter then start again with the drawn frames you have.
 
Seemed like a good idea at the time sums it up ... in hindsight - perhaps not the best course of actions mostly ..certainly sounds like they are queenless and you have some emergency queen cells. Whether you were the cause of your queen's demise you will never know ..

But, the other possibility is that you over fed them and that along with the lack of laying space has promoted the swarming instinct and what you are seeing is actually swarm cells ... although my money would be on a dead or missing queen.

You really need to be sure they are queenless before you go any further but with only one colony your options are very limited. If you get a new queen I would be very tempted to make up a nuc with her transfer five frames from your existing colony into the nuc checking very carefully that there are no queen cells in the nuc and that there is not a queen on any of the frames. Move your existing hive to one side and knock down all bar the best looking queen cell.

Put the Nuc you've made up where your original hive was - the fliers from the original hive will go to the nuc. Dummy your original hive to just the frames you have left in there. Introduce you new queen to the nuc. Sit back and wait and see what happens.

You now have some options ... if you still have a queen in your original hive - you have two nucs going into winter and better prospects for next season, if you haven't then there's a slim chance you could get a mated queen in there.

If there's no queen and your virgin does not get mated then you won't have any eggs and you can combine the two back together ... there's still plenty of time to sort this out without turning the colony inside out.

Make sure both boxes have stores in there - if not then fill an empty frame with sugar syrup or put some fondant on top of the frames to keep them going. No space above the brood boxes and some insulation under the roof.

Edit: SNAP: Looks like Anduril is on the same page ... there's a few ways to do it.
 
I don't think anyone can improve on the advice given, all I would add is we ALL make mistakes. We swear we will learn from them but often make the same mistake twice. You shouldn't have to ask us to be gentle with you. we have all been there and will be again one day. Good luck in whatever you decide to do with them. If it all goes tits up maybe someone will help you out in the spring. Keep smiling:willy_nilly:
Just remember to let us know what happens!
 
Thanks everyone!

I had been considering trying to get hold of two mated queens (if possible) and splitting this colony into two nucs to try and over winter.
It gives a bit of a safety net.

Today they’re day 8 since I think I lost the queen. So theoretically by my calculations there shouldn’t be a queen in there but I’ll have to check very carefully again.
 
see what’s possible
only one colony your options are very limited
Buy 2 mated queens and split into nucs to overwinter
Mating window may still be slightly open, but effective mating is less likely and you may find that in spring you have a dud queen.

Reduce the risk now: buy 2 queens, split the colony into two nucs and remove all QCs before introducing the queens. To be certain of removing all QCs, you must shake bees abruptly off the combs into the box to have a clear view of the comb.
 
Picking up 2 queens from Becky’s Bees in an hour and then going straight to the hive
If any QCs have a cap open then you must find and remove the virgin.

When you open the hive the colony disruption will enable virgins to emerge, so work quickly and go straight to the combs with QCs.
 
Thanks to everyone for their advice and guidance.

As an update, I called “Becky’s Beez” this morning and Becky and Liz very kindly said I could collect 2 queens they had in stock this morning.

Set off on the almost 2 hour round trip on my very unusual mid week day off to collect them. If you’re on here, Becky, thank you so so much.

Back to the hive. Quickly went through and found multiple uncapped and capped queen cells (but fortunately no open ones).
No sign of any queens to my eyes.
Split them into two poly nucs and a it the caged queens in.

I’ll pop back at the weekend to check for queen cells one final time and then open the tabs. Fingers crossed!!
 
I wish you well with your pair of nucs and the intro's.

Making mistakes like any past time is par for the course, we just have to learn from them . The best thing if unsure is to close up , walk away and have a clear think about the situation then apply the logic within the next 24 hours.

Twelve frames is never a good option as it gives no wiggle room, either leave the space or use a dummy board. If the need as in your case is for extra stores /laying space when all is filled, then a second BB is the easiest option if about to disappear for a week or two and a slab of fondant to keep them busy/happy.
 
Sometimes I will inspect at an out apairy and find something a foot , having no spare or the right spare kit I simply close up . Once I have done all that is needed I return home and go back again with my planned action and the kit needed.
 
Thanks to everyone for their advice etc above!
As an update, both nucs looking really good this evening with nice behaviour towards the caged queens.
Rechecked for queen cells and removed any remaining ones (no opened ones).
Tabs removed so fingers crossed for good introductions!

In my classic urge to fiddle and with the populations of each being very high, I’m really tempted to add extra frames in nuc extensions. I’d be grateful for persuasion either way!

Many thanks
 

Attachments

  • IMG_1683.jpeg
    IMG_1683.jpeg
    2.3 MB · Views: 1

Latest posts

Back
Top